Monday, May 17, 2010

Walking in the Dark...

I can remember as a child...getting my first plastic flashlight.  It gave me...a small boy...a magical power that obeyed my every whim.  With a flick of my wrist a beam of laser power danced around the room.  I felt like Aladdin...with the power to release a genie.  I would stay up late into the night...mesmerized by the wonder of it.  Or nearly suffocate myself...going deep under my covers reading my "Peanuts" and "Calvin and Hobbes" comic books until my eyes couldn't see straight.  My joy would eventually turn to disappointment as I would awake one the morning with the flashlight in hand...dead from leaving it on all night.

While flashlights may seem commonplace to many of us "civilized" adults really is remarkable if you step back and think about it.  It is a portable means of lighting up an area to view...that happens with just the flick of a switch.  No fire has to be lit and lights great distances without one having to can light up broad areas or focus as a beam...there is no danger of being burned or smoked out.  Incredible!  What our ancestors would have done for such a power!

Well...they didn't have flashlights.  As far as I know...if they needed to travel at night...their options were to use a torch...or just walk in the dark.  Walking in the darkness can require a certain amount of faith and courage.  Is there danger hidden from view?  Do you really know your surroundings?  Can you find your way with the little you might be able to see?  Will you get lost?  Will your other you find your way?

For many of us...about the only time we have to find our way in the darkness is when we are trying to find a light-switch on a wall in our homes.  After being in a home for a while...we may have developed enough familiarity where we can boldly walk down a dark hall and flick an unseen switch with great confidence.  But that is as far as it goes.

I have to wonder if the ability to always use a light for our path...has given many of us a feeling of dependency on the light.  Like an unhealthy crutch that may be keeping our other skills and senses from staying sharp.

At the "Buckeye Gathering" a primitive living course that I recently striking difference between the group of people I was camping with...and every other group I have ever camped with...was that hardly anyone used a flashlight!  They just walked around in the darkness!  I followed suit.

You know what I found?  My eyes adjusted...and I could see a lot.   While I couldn't make out every rock...the path was easily discernible.  More stars became visible.  It seemed that I was relying more upon sound.  It was fun!  Really the only time I "needed" the flashlight was when I wanted to read something...or when I didn't want to waste time groping around in a dark tent trying to find a toothbrush.

On a field trip with my evening they took a group of 9 year olds on a night walk...and told all of them to bring no flashlights.  They spaced the children out...and had them walk along an unfamiliar trail alone.  Many of the children in the line had never walked in the darkness...and were terrified at the prospect.  While many of them were almost in tears over the ordeal...when they finished the walk they were all exhilarated!  They all shared stories of their fears and their triumphs!  A highlight of the trip for many of the children.

I wonder how many adults might experience the same feelings.  There is a internal power that is generated as one becomes truly self reliant.  Not reliant upon the gadgets of man to function.

Of course...common sense must be applied.  Walking in an area where you know there are sheer cliffs...patches of poison traffic (if you have no reflective gear)...or other dangers isn't smart.

Some other reasons to learn to walk in the dark...

1.  An obvious byproduct of reducing how much you use your that your batteries will last a whole lot longer.  I'm all for that...not because I buy into the myth of man-made global warming...just because I am very frugal!

2.  It can teach your family that just because they "Can" use a resource...doesn't mean they "Should" use a resource.  It will prepare them to conserve for a day of real want.  A good skill to teach to children that are notorious for draining flashlight batteries (as I was)!

3.  In the event you are in a prolonged disaster...and your batteries run out...or other circumstances leave you battery will have some practice functioning without.

4.  Walking in the dark is a way to pass through an area undetected.

5.  Doing so may help you to understand more greatly the spiritual lessons of walking the darkness as a trial of faith.  For found in this talk...

"Another example: We once had a major decision to make. When our prayers left us uncertain, I went to see Elder Harold B. Lee. He counseled us to proceed. Sensing that I was still very unsettled, he said, “The problem with you is you want to see the end from the beginning.” Then he quoted this verse from the Book of Mormon, “Dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith” (Ether 12:6).

He added, “You must learn to walk a few steps ahead into the darkness, and then the light will turn on and go before you.”"
6.  And builds character!  ;)


  1. For many years, I gae flashlights out to all the young children in my family! I never saw a kid that didn't like a flashlight.

    Giving one of their own was another way to make sure that they didn't use the family light without asking! It also helped them to understand that overuse makes the batteries die...and so they learned to respect and accept the limits of their resource!

    Good post!

  2. Great idea. I've actually done similarly. I feel so lame giving plastic toy gifts to children...that will end up in the goodwill pile in a year. So instead I give the children energizer headlamps. Like you said...they always like them!

  3. I think it was a park ranger that once said to a group I was in the following about night vision:

    After 3 minutes in the dark you will have 1/3 of your night vision. After 30 min. you will have 2/3 and after 3 hours you will be at your maximum night time vision.

    It also really helps when there's a full moon :)


  4. Thanks for sharing that...interesting.

    It really is amazing how a flashlight shined at your face can quickly degrade how well you see.